Mammograms as the Most Effective Strategy to Timely Detect Breast Cancer
Cancer is a disease that occurs when the cells of tissue begin to multiply abnormally, giving rise to the formation of malignant tissues called tumors, which destroy adjacent tissues, causing the death of the affected organs.
The breasts are glands whose function is to produce and secrete milk for lactation. They consist of three main parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. The lobules are the glands that produce milk. The ducts are the tubes that carry milk to the nipple. Connective tissue (made up of fibrous and fatty tissue) surrounds and supports all parts of the breast. In breast cancer, tumors can start to form in different parts of the breast. Most breast cancers start in the ducts or lobules.
What Is the Prognosis of Breast Cancer?
The disease caused by cancer develops gradually over a certain time and evolves in stages classified in ascending order from stage 1 to stage 4. Stage 4 is the last and most advanced point of infection when the cells have traveled from the primary tumor to other distant organs, which is known as metastasis or metastatic cancer, opening a window for the generation of more tumors that destroy tissues in other parts of the body. When this cancer triggers a progressive and uncontrolled disease, it is said that the patient is in the terminal stage or suffers from terminal cancer, when their life expectancy is typically around 6 months once diagnosed.
Breast cancer can spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. But if detected early during the initial stages, it is curable through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical removal of the malignant tumor, among other treatments that can be provided by doctors and specialized oncology teams.
Unfortunately in Mexico, in the vast majority of cases, breast cancer detection usually begins when the breast tumors are palpable, so self-examination is the route mostly used by women. However, a tumor palpable to the touch is a fabric that has already developed for some time in anonymity. At the time of discovery, breast cancer already has a certain degree of progress. Routine screening tests are currently the only useful way for early detection of breast cancer and its timely treatment with a very high expectation of success.
The importance of timely breast cancer diagnosis lies in the opportunity to save lives and avoid or greatly reduce the impacts of the disease; not only for the patient who suffers from it, but also for the suffering it causes to their loved ones, and the financial impact that, unfortunately, can be a crucial factor in your treatment.
How Do You Timely Detect Breast Cancer?
Screening tests are studies or analyses that are done on patients to identify changes in their natural biology indicating the onset of diseases before any symptoms. For the detection of breast cancer, screening consists of taking periodic mammograms, under medical prescription in young women and routinely at least every 12 months in women 40 years of age and older. The prevalence of breast cancer diagnoses is statistically higher in the female population between 40 and 57 years of age.
Mammography or mammography studies consist of taking X-rays with machines designed exclusively for these analyses. Any other general radiology equipment is not useful for obtaining optimal images to study the pathology of the breast and uses higher than necessary doses of ionizing radiation. These images allow the specialist doctor to observe the structures of the breasts to identify any abnormalities.
The most advanced technology is digital mammography, where images of the breast are captured by digital detectors and printed on special films to be later analyzed on high-resolution screens where each image is studied and can be manipulated to zoom in, clarify, darken or invert them positively, so it is also possible to send them to other centers to be evaluated by specialists in the field or to their treating physicians. At Certolab San Miguel Medical laboratory, they have high-tech equipment and trained staff to operate it and X-ray imaging for the care of women in this important task of prevention and support for medical diagnosis.
In addition to mammography, medical laboratories such as Certolab San Miguel have other complementary studies, including ultrasounds, and blood, urine, or other body fluid tests that help doctors determine an accurate diagnosis, such as the detection of tumor markers, which are blood tests through which certain substances that generate cancer cells are detected and measured, and tissue analysis through biopsies, among others.
Cancer is curable if it is detected in time, which is why prevention is vitally important. It’s especially important not to wait for testing until symptoms appear. Mammography is the best instrument for early detection, even before the tumor is palpable. One mammogram a year starting at age 40 should be a rigorously scheduled appointment each year for all women.